His portrait of the wilder side of Claxton, a Norfolk village, like his favourite jazz improvisations, builds ‘steadily, patiently, minutely in rhythmic layers’, in encounters ‘where anything can happen and seldom does’.
He inevitably includes some of the rarities and the wildlife spectaculars that Norfolk is famous for but the appeal of this country diary is in meeting, as he reflects on a winter’s day, ‘so many of our living neighbours – the leafless trees, the dank grasses and flowerless plants, the expiring fungi and voiceless birds – [which] hardly ever acquire the foreground of our minds. Yet every single one of them is integral to that magical uplift in spirits, which is the great gift of a walk in wild space.’
Every parish should have a chronicler like Cocker and, if your parish hasn’t acquired one yet, this illuminating book might encourage you to set out on your own home patch, armed with notebook and pencil.
Claxton, Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Cocker, illustrated with woodcuts by Jonathan Gibbs, will be published in hardback later this year by Jonathan Cape.